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Feeney’s pitching, grand slam lifts Governors over Vistas

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot Vistas first baseman Jack Plemel (right) stretches out to record an out Thursday evening in the first game of a doubleheader against the Bismarck Governors at Corbett Field.

Carrying deep to left field, Cade Feeney watched in amusement.

After being the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader, the Bismarck Governors standout let his bat do the damage in the nightcap.

Feeney’s towering grand slam was the exclamation point in a pair of Bismarck wins Thursday evening, 9-2 and 7-5, against the Minot Vistas (6-8 statewide league) at Corbett Field.

“When we are playing top-to-bottom talented teams, there are no little mistakes,” Minot Vistas head coach Pat Arntson said. “Every small mistake against a team like Bismarck turns into a big one. Give them extra outs in an inning, and it’s usually going to be a problem. That was the difference.”

In Game 1, Bismarck (7-4 statewide league) built up an 8-0 lead through the first four innings. Skyler Riedinger, Nick Hinsz, Cru Walker, Connor Weikum, Ben Patton and starting pitcher Feeney each drove in runs for the Governors.

Half of the scoring came in a four-run third inning. That abruptly marked the end of Aydan Almy’s outing on the mound for the Vistas.

Feeney, on cruise control for most of the game, ended with two blemishes on his dominant pitching stat line. Jack Plemel plated both of Minot’s runs with RBI singles in the fourth and sixth inning.

Feeney went six innings and struck out 10 batters.

“With Cade Feeney pitching, probably one of the best pitchers in that state, it was hard to hit,” Vistas outfielder Hunter Ruzicka said. “He throws pretty strong and knows what he is doing up there. He will have success at the next level, I bet.”

A bases-loaded walk to Bismarck’s Isaac Pegors in the seventh inning capped the scoring at 9-2. Governors’ relief pitcher Jackson Uhler sent the Vistas packing 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh.

The second game stayed scoreless through two innings.

Bismarck starting pitcher Connor Hanson snapped the stalemate in the top of the third inning with an RBI double down the left-field line. Later in the inning, Hanson was tagged out of home plate, trying to double the Governors’ advantage. Vistas catcher Morgan Nygaard reacted quickly to put down the run-saving tag off a throw from center field.

With a chance to draw even in the bottom half with a runner on third base, Plemel wasn’t able to repeat what he did in the first game. Instead of another RBI single, Plemel popped up in the infield and slammed his bat against the turf in frustration.

It was one of those tormenting doubleheaders for the Vistas.

“When we are playing poorly and everybody is quiet, it’s a hard environment to be around,” Arntson said. “Our effort has been good, and that’s the hard part. When the effort is good and the results are bad, it’s hard to keep guys onboard. It’s like, ‘I’m trying now and it’s not going well, so why am I going to keep doing that?’ We have to keep caring about it to keep that effort level high.”

Despite keeping Minot off the scoreboard, Hanson was replaced on the mound by Riedinger in the fourth inning. The Vistas also made their first pitching change in the fifth inning, as Eli Nissen was relieved by Calvin Watkins.

Bismarck loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Watkins wiggled out of the jam unharmed with a groundout and a popout. He wasn’t as fortunate in the sixth inning.

The Governors loaded the bases again, this time with no outs, and scored six runs off a fielder’s choice, an error and an emphatic home run to left field by Feeney to clear the bases.

“He has done that before,” Ruzicka said. “But, then, we started to put the bat on the ball and started being more aggressive on the basepaths. We got runners in scoring position, kept hitting the ball and got runs across.”

Back against the wall, Minot also loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half. Logan Merck, Nygaard, Ruzicka and Chase Burke provided RBI hits to cut the deficit down to 7-5.

The Vistas, however, ran into a costly double play to end the inning.

Still trailing by two runs going to the bottom of the seventh, Minot left one runner on base and didn’t score to end the doubleheader.

“We had more hits than them, but we had five errors,” Arntson said. “And those errors turned into a lot of their runs… We have seen our issues and continue to try to address them and push forward. We have seen progress. I like how our guys are learning and paying attention to where they have to be at all times.”

The Vistas remain home for a non-counter, nine-inning game against Dickinson this evening. First pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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